Fall ’23 Semester Begins with a Transformation-Themed Convocation
Haverhill, MA (September 5, 2023) – Fall 2023 Convocation marked the official beginning of the fall semester at Northern Essex Community College on September 5, 2023. As in years past, NECC faculty, staff, and students gathered on the Haverhill Campus to mark the occasion. This year, however, Convocation took a more ceremonial tone with students processing in, followed by the Color Guard and the singing of the National Anthem.
During the program that followed, students, alumni, and faculty shared stories of their journeys in higher education along the theme of “The Transformative Power of Education.” They represented a variety of student experiences.
Business Transfer student Edwin SamMbaka is a member of the NECC basketball team. Originally from Paris, France, SamMbaka first came to the US to play basketball in Missouri and learned about Northern Essex from a teammate. He sent his highlight reel to coach Darren Stratton, who helped him enroll and secure him a spot on the team. “I immediately felt like I was in the right place for my sporting and academic development,” he recalled. SamMbaka plans to transfer to a four-year school and to one day play basketball professionally.
DJ Chase came to Northern Essex as part of the Early College program. For Chase, living with autism and ADHD has meant that they haven’t always had the easiest time academically. They had difficulty turning in physical assignments and found their school unable to make accommodations. When Chase took a summer math course at NECC and was allowed to submit their work digitally, a new world opened. “I had gone from very depressed and suicidal to excelling academically. That’s the difference accessibility can make.” Chase is dedicated to making sure all students get the accommodations they need. They first interned with The Center for Accessibility Resources & Services and, this July, became the Accessible Media Team’s part-time contracted digital accessibility specialist.
Northern Essex alumna and Portsmouth Poet Laureate Diannely Antigua ’09 shared how she found her voice at NECC and how it helped her reckon with childhood trauma. “I just didn’t understand how important it was to share my story. Who would listen? My professors at NECCO listened.” Antigua has a long list of accomplishments. She currently teaches in the MFA Writing Program at the University of New Hampshire as the inaugural Noosrat Yassini Poet in Residence. In 2023, she received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship to launch The Bread & Poetry Project. “I will always keep returning, as one does, to a place that raised you,” said Antigua of NECC. “I can truly say it’s great to be home.”
Convocation also included remarks from NECC President Lane Glenn, NECC Board of Trustees Chairwoman Jennifer Borislow, NECC Dean Carolyn Knoepfler, NECC Trustee and Alumni Board President Jouel Gomez ’15, ESOL Level 5 student Joas Magouno Me Namedoumo, and Eric Barrett, who enrolled in NECC programming at the Middleton House of Corrections. “I never could have imagined I would have this experience when I was incarcerated. It’s not time lost. It was just time rearranged,” said Barrett.